Free College Tuition Debuts for 97% of Colombians This Year
Colombia President Ivan Duque announced May 11 that the government has just decided to extend tuition-free college education for 97% of students attending public universities and technical colleges here, starting the second half of 2021.
The historic move puts Colombia way ahead of many nations — including the relatively wealthy United States — by eliminating costly tuition burdens in public educational institutions for everyone except those in higher-income strata.
The new move means all college-age students in income strata 1, 2 and 3 — 97% of all Colombian students in public colleges and technical schools — will have free tuition for the first time in Colombian history.
“We know that the pandemic has caused many negative effects on the income of families and, therefore, many families expressed the need to have a mechanism to help cover education expenses and public technical and technological education for our young people,” President Duque announced.
Education Minister María Victoria Angulo added that the new initiative eventually aims to become a permanent state policy.
“Through the Solidarity Fund for Education, created by Legislative Decree 662 of 2020, the national government will allocate additional resources, which will be added to those already allocated through programs for access and permanence as ‘Generation E’, which will allow students in professional, technological and university technical programs in the 63 public higher-education institutes throughout the country to have free tuition in the second semester of 2021,” according to the official press bulletin.
The national government also will “team-up with governors, mayors and institutions to provide additional enrollment assistance that mitigates the possible effects of the current situation in the country caused by Covid-19,” according to the bulletin.
Commenting on the announcement, Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez added the free-tuition move “is a powerful message from the national government that fills us with hope, that through dialogue, we are going to generate the structural changes that our country needs.”
On a parallel front, “stage 3” of the national vaccination program against Covid-19 starts today — reserved for teachers, educational staff, public safety workers, staff of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) and members of the Attorney General’s Office, the President added.